IDAHO FALLS – A growing number of car manufacturers say electric vehicles could be the future of car buying.
Several local utilities and convenience store chains are helping make that trend a sustainable reality in eastern Idaho.
Rocky Mountain Power has partnered with Maverik and other companies to make traveling in an electric vehicle viable, convenient and mainstream in our region.
“Now that car manufacturers are coming out with all electric vehicles, we want to give people the confidence to buy one,” Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Spencer Hall tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Putting the infrastructure in place is a precursor to people making that choice.”
Hall says Rocky Mountain Power has committed to build 700 charging stations throughout Utah, Idaho and Nevada.
“We want people (with electric vehicles) to be able to travel from Yellowstone to Salt Lake City, to Vegas and Disneyland.”
Since these are popular stops for tourists, Hall says they want people with electric vehicles to feel secure in making a long distance trip along this route.
Some of these locations already have charging stations.
There are seven different locations between Driggs and Pocatello that have electric charging stations, according to Rocky Mountain Power’s website.
“We’ve got that corridor completed. You can drive that stretch with confidence in an electric vehicle.”
Idaho Falls has its own power grid. The city’s website indicates there are six electric charging station locations within city limits, two of which are located at Idaho Falls Power on Capital Avenue.
One of the goals for the city of Idaho Falls in 2018, according to Mayor Rebecca Casper, is to install more electric charging stations.
Idaho Falls Power will be proposing an electrical vehicle charging program to their commercial customers within the next month or two. The program, according to Idaho Falls Power Assistant General Manager Bear Prairie, would allow them to install and maintain a charging station at the business’s location for $20 a month.
“We’ll be sending out a brochure to our customers to see if it’s a service they want,” Prairie says. “It’s becoming real common for businesses in other areas to have charging stations. We’re hopeful that it is something our community wants as well.”
Prairie says Idaho Falls Power has some electric vehicles they have been using for about five years. One of the advantages of electric vehicles, according to Prairie, is the price.
“If you were to charge a car at Idaho Falls Power rates for 10 hours a day, five days a week all month long, you’d still only be spending about $25. So the power side of it is pretty inexpensive.”
Hall says many of the companies that have partnered with them are offering free charging.
Both Hall and Prairie say another thing they like about electric cars is the silence.
“You don’t realize how much noise an internal combustion engine makes until you drive an electric vehicle,” Prairie says. “As you drive down the street, you can hear people talking in a driveway or birds chirping.”
“The good people at Tesla gave me a ride and I’m a changed man,” Hall jokes. “It’s so much fun. You don’t have road noise.”
The disadvantage, Prairie says, is the length of time it takes to charge the car. He says it can take as long as 5 hours, depending on the type of charger.
The range of the battery, according to Prairie, is another disadvantage.
Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf and Tesla are just a few of the electric vehicle models that are available. The battery life for these vehicles, on average, lasts about 210 miles, depending on the battery.
Prairie says these cars are powered by a lithium ion battery, the same type of battery used in your smartphone. The design and the features make it a piece of technology he highly recommends.
“It’s really underrated technology. I’d encourage people to find a manufacturer who carries an electric vehicle and give it a test drive. People will be really surprised at how good the quality is,” Prairie says.
“We can all feel good about driving something that’s not polluting our neighbors (on the road behind us) or contributing to poor air quality,” says Hall.
If you would like to learn more about electric vehicles, click here.